Products are important, especially in tax and accounting services

Tax and accounting firms can take certain steps to create products from their key service offerings to better serve clients and attract new ones.

As the subject of advisory services and advisory relationships continues to gain traction and understanding in the tax and accounting profession, it is not uncommon to hear more about the need for produce your services. While it’s not as simple as throwing a label on something, it doesn’t have to be a complicated process either. Here are five simple steps your tax and accounting firm can take to produce your services:

1. Identify the result of the product

Before we can even build a product, we must be able to identify the result of the product. What is the product trying to accomplish? What is it for? How will we know that the intended result has been achieved?

Before creating the product (more on that shortly), we need to answer these questions. If we don’t focus on what the product will accomplish, then creating the product becomes a challenge – a challenge that is often bloated with excess and unnecessary elements. A clear outcome will also help communicate with the customer about the product, as they will need to understand the outcome you are working towards.

When you identify the product outcome, chances are you are already providing services to help customers solve their problems. This doesn’t mean you’ve finished the product yet, but it does mean you’re a good head start. Listing the tasks your business already performs to help customers achieve the desired results is the second half of what needs to be done to identify the product outcome. As you list these tasks, organize them according to their direct contribution to achieving the outcome in question. Is it correlated directly, indirectly, or is it just an ancillary supporting element?

2. Create the product

Now that you’ve identified the product outcome and know which services are aided by that outcome, it’s time to actually create the product. While the bulk of the product may be a service you already offer today, the elements that complement the product will be what sets it apart and helps you build the value proposition.

The product must show: I) an understanding of the current state of the challenge; ii) changes needed to move from the customer’s current state to the desired end state; and iii) a deliverable or a means of showing that the desired state has been achieved. It is this middle piece of this process that is both the simplest and the most elusive, in part because of the variations that can occur from product to product.

For some products, the responsibility for most of these intermediate steps lies with the company, and in other products, this responsibility lies with the customer – a situation in which the company plays an even more important role of facilitator and driver. accountability.

3. Communicate the product

If no one knows you have this product, it obviously won’t sell. The process of raising awareness of the product begins internally. Chances are you created this product because you’ve had to help solve this problem for a client or multiple clients before. The members of your team who work with these clients on a daily basis are the ones who may see this opportunity first. They need to know the signs – which can be financial or conversational – of where the product will fit. They also need to know the right path to seizing the opportunity: are they starting the sales conversation themselves or is that opportunity being passed on to someone else internally?

Then, of course, you need to communicate the benefits of this product to your customers and prospects. Social media, website, newsletters – all of these forums should be leveraged to simply detail the problem and what the end result might look like if customers came to you to solve this problem. Don’t forget that communication must remain based on values ​​and not on actions.

Too often with a new product, we cling to the not we will do, where the customer is only concerned with the results to help you solve their problem.

4. Deliver the product

As the saying goes “Don’t confuse sales with delivery”. If the execution and follow-up is not there, it will have a significant negative effect on your business. So apart from the obvious does the job, what should you focus on when delivering a new product? The first thing is the end result.

Remember that your client is looking for the result more than the process. After that, you’ll want to research valuable domains. How can you make fulfillment easier for the customer? How can you anticipate their next questions and proactively provide them with the answers or methods?

Finally, look at the areas of improved tools and communication. Where are the elements that could be automated next time? What were the questions (internal or external) that can be answered preemptively next time? While these may still be areas of focus even when the work product is delivered, there should be strong emphasis early on, perhaps even having a place for a debriefing at the end of the product launch process for each of the first three to five cases. .

5. Share product results

While it is natural to communicate when something is new, sharing the results of product progress afterwards is more often missed in many tax and accounting firms.

When the impact of products is not shared, opportunities are missed, including: I) build confidence in the new product; ii) give examples to team members who might sell this product to the next customer; iii) educate customers who did not hear about it the first time; and iv) continue to get feedback to improve the process in the future.

Tax and accounting firms are often tempted to simply to do work to help their customers, but putting a product structure behind your offered services gives the business an edge in communicating value, meeting scope, meeting specific customer goals, and having the revenue to reflect the impact of your company.

Kristan F. Talley